Let’s Discuss | Healthy relationships with books?

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This is a topic that has really been playing on my mind for a long time – to be honest, since I first joined the book community – but it can be quite a difficult topic to talk about. Before launching into a discussion I just want to make it clear that I’m not here to shame anybody’s relationship with books or pass judgment on them, and I also want to ensure that we have a nice discussion about this – so please no arguing with one another! (Content Notices: Debt, hoarding)

A big part of the book blogging community revolves around the purchasing, displaying and talking about books. All of us here love books and we obviously want to share this with each other through our blogs, Twitters, Tumblr’s, and Instagrams. Buying books not only feels great because we get to own our very own copy of the book, but it is also the best way to support the authors that we love. And, of course, we then post about our purchases online to share this love with other book lovers and encourage others to buy the books too.

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To me, this is really great! I love, love, love being in a community that encourages others to read, has fantastic discussions about representation in literature, and even helps writers take their first steps into creative writing.

However, I think it is also imperative to have an open, honest and supportive conversation with one another about some of the potentially negative consequences that spring from the book blogging community’s relationship with books, specifically in regards to buying and collecting large amounts of books.

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Finances

I want to start by talking about potential financial implications with the purchasing of large quantities of books because this is one that can very quickly lead to people getting themselves into trouble further down the line. As I mentioned before, it’s great that we want to buy books and support authors but it is also important to make purchases within our own means. There have certainly been times when I’ve bought one or two books that I didn’t really need and then this resulted in me not having money for bills or travel expenses a few weeks later.

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In extreme cases, I have also seen people slide rapidly into hundreds of pounds of debt which they then really struggled to get out of because they simply could not stop themselves from buying things. They felt compelled to buy the latest new book, new game, new fan merch. One friend of mine ended up spending £200-£300 every month on fandom purchases, ended up not being able to afford her rent, and lost her home for a few months.

I know that there are certainly bloggers out there who feel so much pressure to keep up with all the latest books, for fear of missing out and/or not be able to keep up with the latest blogging discussions, that they are spending money they don’t have. To me, this is a really important conversation we need to have because book buying habits have very real implications in the real world.

Lastly, I would also urge all of you with decent sized book collections to insure the contents of your home. Think about how much money your books are all worth and imagine what would happen if, god forbid, you were robbed or there was a fire/flood in your home. Make sure your collections are safe ❤

 

Hoarding

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Hoarding is the other big issue I want to talk about today and this is the one that really sticks in my mind when it comes to the book blogging community. It’s something that many of us joke about, calling ourselves dragons or talking about our book ‘hoards’, but this is a very real issue for some out there who may be suffering in silence because they feel that it’s not acceptable to talk about. The book blogging community is full of images upon images of people’s bookshelves which are crammed with books. Bookshelves which are overflowing with hundreds of books, many of which haven’t been read, and yet we continue to buy even more books.

Think about your collection of books at home – how many of those books have you read? Are you continuing to buy books even when you don’t have the money/space/time to read the ones you already own? If there are books you own that you aren’t likely to read would you be willing to get rid of them?

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According to the International OCD Foundation, about 1 in 50 people exhibit hoarding behaviors but it may also be as high as 1 in 20 people. Hoarding is a serious disorder which can become severe if left to continue for a long period of time and it gets more difficult to treat the longer it goes on for.

If you feel like you might be a hoarder, or are starting to develop hoarding behaviors when it comes to books (or anything else for that matter) then the first thing I would encourage you to do is to not feel ashamed and to know you’re not alone. Speaking about hoarding can be very difficult, especially in a community where it seems like we (unintentionally) encourage each other to keep buying books, but it’s important to talk about it. I know that I have a very obsessive personality and this can manifest itself in hoarding like behaviors. In the past, it has been something very difficult for me to confront, and it has only been with the support of my partner that I have been able to develop more healthy habits. It’s not something that I would ever wish anyone to suffer with alone, and it is definitely something I wish that we would talk about more in the book blogging community.

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It’s my hope that my beginning a discussion like this we can start to raise more awareness about how our activities online can sometimes promote unhealthy behaviors around books and that there are things that we can do to combat this. One of the main ways we can do this is to start talking about with each other

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Some other tips include:

  • Selling or donating books you know you won’t read
  • Donating anticipated new releases to disadvantaged children and young people when you’ve finished reading them
  • Setting yourself a limit of how much you will spend on books each month or how many books you can buy to prevent going overboard
  • Adhering to a book buying ban until you have read a specified amount of the books you already own
  • If you have access to a library, consider borrowing the book rather than buying it
  • Consider the environmental impact that your book buying has. Would it be better to buy certain books as ebooks to prevent the number of trees being used for books? If you want to get rid of some books, make sure you recycle them rather than throw them in the bin
  • Continue to share posts which encourage clearing out unwanted books, through things like down the TBR hole and book unhauls, rather than only focusing on book purchases
  • Speak openly about your experiences, especially for those of us who feel under pressure to keep up appearances through social media
  • Seek help if you find yourself accumulating financial debt or exhibiting hoarding behaviors

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let's chat

How do you feel about the atmosphere within the book blogging community in relation to bookish habits?

Do you agree with the things discussed or do you have a different perspective?

Are there any other issues that you think we need to talk about more with each other?


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21 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss | Healthy relationships with books?

  1. Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

    I think all the pretty instagram pictures of new books and shelves pushes bloggers into thinking they need to be buying ALL the books. I love those pictures and all, but they do kind of make you think, “Well, if I don’t have as many physical books as this person, then I’m not a real book blogger.” I would love to see more pics of library book hauls because 1) Libraries are amazing and 2) It helps spread the idea that there’s nothing shameful in borrowing books.

    Great topic! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norrie says:

      I think libraries are great, especially for organized people. I’m not so good with deadlines so I’d worry I’d forget to return them, or just what if I don’t feel like reading the book once I’m home with it. That can also happen 😂

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  2. sakhile writes says:

    I personally find it a bit too much when an individual has multiple copies of the same book including in languages they don’t read in

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  3. mudandstars says:

    I relate a lot to this post, and think the tips you included at the end are very helpful. I am on a low income and definitely spend money I don’t have on books, meaning that I don’t have enough money for other things later in the month. I have a lot of unread books, and I keep on buying more. It’s something I tend to do when my mental health takes a dip, because I feel it will make me feel better. Momentarily it does, but then I end up feeling worse! Thank you for writing about this.

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  4. Kathy @ Books & Munches says:

    I honestly feel like the bookish community pretty much encourages splurging on books. Encourages or pushes it on our faces – one or the other. You feel like you have to own all the books, buy the new releases to show them off if you want to be “on top of your game” while this isn’t even the case. You should just do you, buy what you’re INTERESTED in and want to read, rather than doing it because they look pretty on your shelves / in pictures or even because you want to show them off in a book haul.
    Saying that, I know it’s pretty hypocritical of me because I KNOW I’m a victim of exactly that. Or at least, I used to be a very big victim of it. It’s gotten better tons since I actually realized I was going about it the wrong way and was spending too much money on books I wouldn’t be reading any time soon. Sure, I still have the occasional splurge, but I mind what books I’m buying way more than I used to. Only buying books I’m genuinely interested in and want to read soon, only preordering sequels and NOT deciding on cover whether to buy a book, but critically reading the blurb. :’) It helps; I’m still working on it, but I’ve gotten way better than it used to be. [Honestly, my boyfriend sometimes got pissed when there was book mail AGAIN so things had to change.] I still have over 180 unread books but right now, I’m okay with it because I know they’re all books I’m really interested in – or at least 90% is. I’m going to do an unhaul over the Summer maybe, or when we move later this year or next year. It’ll be hard because I’m the worst at unhauling but it’s something that needs to be done in order to get my reading life in order, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Annemieke says:

    Ever since my pregnancy it is easier to unhaul book I’ve found. Before that I couldn’t get myself to do it but there is nothing like pregnancy hormones to help you to get rid of stuff. And it has stuck. Maybe I could cut out more but there is no real pressing need. And I unhaul things here and there as I realize I’m unlikely to pick them up. Just this week I pulled the Half Bad trilogy from my shelves. So I am certainly making progress on that front. I am trying to see if I can trade or sell a few and otherwise I’ll be donating my box of books this Summer.

    As for the rest of the house. We got so many things from my parents that we don’t need. But they really don’t take no as an answer. So I feel obligated to keep things sometimes. I’ve also been lazy to go through things. But hey, if I want to get that extra book shelf, I’ll need to make room. It is a process I guess. While I am finding it easier to actual part with things, with a toddler it is so much harder to actually do the act itself. #notime #destroyerofitemsmytoddleris

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  6. northernplunder says:

    this was a very good post and definitely made me rethink a lot of things, though its definitely something ive been aware of for a while.

    ive largley stopped buying books now because its just getting ridiculous, i still keep my fairyloot subscription because ive never been disappointed with a book theyve sent so far.

    and at least once a month i move books to my to sale shelf. whilst this shelf needs to actually be emptied its happening slowly and my mum and i have plans to do a carboot sale at some point too!

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  7. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    This is such a great discussion! I actually don’t buy books often. I actually have to want to re-read a book to purchase it. Shhhh I don’t tell many people about this because its pretty horrifying to them. I don’t do haul posts, and really I’m not looking down on those who do or who buy books… Because the publishing industry does have to be supported through the purchase of books, but I have my own horrors of hoarding and debt (+ reading paper books takes me double the time to read that an ebook does 😦 )… just the topics you talked about! It is something we should talk more about. We all do love books but some moderation can be applied to stay mentally and fiscally responsible!. 😉

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  8. Norrie says:

    Awesome post!
    I defo have a bit of a problem, but upon reflection i realized it’s not because of my blog or other people’s blog so much.
    It started years ago, when i was around 19, and i started working and was finally able to buy stuff. 🙈
    I used to go to the second hand shop and leave with 30 books at once…

    I’m more careful nowadays tho, and rarely buy a full price book. Majority are for kindle, and i get them for 99 p. Others are from charity. Eventually i return them charity after a few years. i could not afford buying the newest books on full price for sure.

    I try to keep things balanced and this year i did not buy many clothes for example. So i saved a lot there. Each month i check how much i spend on books, and so far it’s not bad! I think having a budget in mind does help.

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  9. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    What a great post! Seriously, nobody ever talks about this. I’m glad most of my books are on the Kindle – and I mean like 90%. It’s very easy to hoard Kindle books, because nothing actually happens – you don’t really ‘see’ them. They don’t occupy any space. I sometimes wonder how many I’d haul if I could afford print books. Maybe it’s just as well that I can’t 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

    Thank you for opening up and speaking frankly about this issue. I had a similar mindset when I first started. The whole wanting to buy this book and that. I wanted it all and now I have several books I don’t even read! I especially love your advice about posting bookish unhauls to make people feel it’s okay to get rid of books!

    I do wish I had a library nearby where I can borrow books from! I believe that would make me less crazy about buying books? Since I mostly buy from secondhand stores, I always worry that if I don’t buy it now, it will gone by the time I come back for it!

    I also love how you included a small talk on mental illnesses here! From my experience, I’ve found that when I’m hit with depression I tend to go on a book buying spree. Anyway, that’s something I need to control better and book buying ban seems perfect for me right now!

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Angelica Joy says:

    Avery, I could totally relate to being a hoarder and also buying unnecessary books. Sometimes due to social media I’d even buy books before I’ve read the synopsis.

    I’ve never bought books instead of my bills, and I do utilise my library heaps, but I do buy heaps too. I go through phases. I think I’m gonna impose a ban as I’ve got more unread books than read books which is pretty bad.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anna @ Read and Repeat says:

    This is such an interesting topic– and one I feel like never gets talked about in the book blogging community. I am the black sheep of this community– I don’t buy books (1-2 books a year?). Really, well, ever. In the United States we have an AMAZING library system. Recently a new book was released by an Indian author and since I’m always looking for more diversity in my reading I wanted to read it– but I didn’t want to actually buy it. My library didn’t have it– but I requested it through interlibrary loan and then my library actually just bought the book which all translates to me getting to read it AND now it’s on the shelves of my library for everyone to enjoy.
    Wow sorry for the long (only slightly related) story. I guess my point is libraries are under celebrated in this community. And to be fair I can’t really engage in this like bookstagram because..well…I don’t have books to take photos of! It’s a trade-off, but one I’m happy with.

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  14. vendija723 says:

    Great topic for discussion. I posted a while ago about the general consumerism around identifying as a book lover. It’s something I’ve seen change quite a bit with the rise of the internet (yes, I’m dating myself here). Again, I’m just as guilty. No funko pops, but a full range of t-shirts and socks (socks!) that proclaim my love for books. And for decades I was really good about using the library for fiction and only buying reference material and poetry–things I’d want to have on hand. But in the past three years my book buying has soared. I can justify that because I buy books for my classroom, but oddly, my hoarding of library books has also soared. I always have about 50 books checked out at any one time, even though there’s no way to read them all before they have to go back to the library. I’m going to work on a “return two to check out one” policy until I get it down to a more reasonable number.

    And may I second the idea of donating books to disadvantaged youth and/or classrooms?

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  15. Aj @ Read All The Things! says:

    Wonderful discussion! I really hope that nobody goes into debt in order to feel like they’re part of the community. There’s no shame in using the library. I love buying books, but I have a budget and am very good at bargain hunting. I also get a lot of books through trading, so I have no issue with getting rid of books. I have no idea where I’d put them if I kept them all.

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  16. Mai says:

    I agree with so much on here! Personally, I’ve imposed a book buying ban on myself until I can afford a new computer, since my old one completely broke down. Maybe 1 book a month if I really, really want it and can’t read it any other way (the libraries where I live don’t carry many books in English, not even mentioning new releases).

    Books are the only thing I am hoarding, the rest of my possessions are quite minimalistic! But I allow that to myself, because it makes me happy! I do actually read all the books I get (even though I have a big TBR pile on my floor, but that’s from when I had a huge book haul at a convention. it IS getting smaller) – and I’m huge on rereading! If they just sat there and gathered dust, that’d be a different story! KonMari methods ftw – my books do indeed spark joy. c:

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  17. Cee Arr @ Dora Reads says:

    Yes! I’ve been thinking similar things for a while but haven’t been able to put it into words. The community as a whole puts an extreme amount of value on the consumerist side of things – to the extent where some people have 10+ copies of the same book (I’ve seen people with over 3 copies of the same *edition*) and it just feels like: why are we valuing the status symbol over the words?!

    I can’t afford to buy every new book which comes out… in fact, I tend to plan my book purchases carefully since I can’t afford to buy many ‘new’ books – most of mine are second hand, and I’m fine with that! I love second hand books! But then… people refer to second hand books as ‘dirty’ or ‘messy’ and… I get annoyed. It’s not gonna stop me buying second hand books, but some mini book nerd somewhere who doesn’t have much cash is being put-off right now, and that bugs me!

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